Feeding over winter

How do you return the stored honey in the flow super frames back to the bees to sustain them over winter.?

You can use any commercially-available in-hive bee feeder, or just put it into a ziplock baggie and using a very sharp razor blade, cut a slit in the bag once it is in the hive. Use the search tool at the top right to search for baggie for more details. :wink:

Good question, Dennis. There are some restrictions on Aussie beekeepers feeding honey to bees. In NSW it’s illegal any time. In VIC, it’s illegal to open feed. Check here for Victoria https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/honey-bees/health-and-welfare/feeding-honey-bees-to-prevent-starvation. It’s all about AFB. Unless you know the honey is clear of spores, you risk infecting your hive.
You’re better off feeding them with syrup using white cane sugar and water.


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That is true if you can’t give them back their own honey. But if you want to take the Flow super off the hive for winter, and it has some unripe honey in it, I really can’t see the problem with storing it (preferably in the freezer) and giving it back to them using an in-hive feeding system. Even if it has AFB in it, the hive must already be infected. Unless you have been remiss in your inspections, you should be aware of that and dealt with it.

In summary, I see no issue with feeding a hive back its own honey, if I don’t need it or want it. Honey is much more nutritionally complete for them than syrup.


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Hi I’m not asking if I can or can’t feed the bees back their OWN honey, what I am asking is do you remove it from the Flow Frames and feed it back via a top or frame feeder or do you leave the flow frames in the Flow super ( which creates an additional area for the bees to heat control over winter) . I have no intention of harvesting this year due to the bad season so I want to keep the hive strong over this coming winter. I will only feed honey back to the same bees that produced it to avoid cross contamination. Sugar syrup is OK for a short term energy fix but it does not contain protein and is a poor substitute for pollen and nectar. Honey does the job as it their natural stored reserves.

Sorry that we got too detailed here, but your clarification of the question helps us to stay on track for what you really wanted. I stick with my original answer as far as the method goes, but will expand a bit below on the other part of your question.

I have a time deadline for my Flow super. At the end of the nectar flow season (for me that is early to late July), I harvest all of the frames, capped or not. If they are capped, I may keep the honey for myself. If they are uncapped, I freeze the honey to feed back to the bees over winter. I then remove the super from the hive. If you are not in a subtropical, or warmer climate, bees seal the Flow frames with propolis over winter, which makes the next harvest difficult or impossible. If you have a long nectar dearth over winter, any honey remaining in the frames will likely crystallize, making the next harvest difficult or impossible. So for most of the world, it is just better to take the Flow super off over winter.

You are right about the heating issue too, another good reason to take it off.

As far as top or frame feeder, I prefer top feeding methods. My current feeder is known as a “rapid feeder” and has been excellent. However, you have to check dimensions carefully, as most are made for 10 frame hives, and mine is an 8 frame. This is the concept:

Baggies work well too, and have the advantage of not needing to buy extra equipment. Also, once you have learned how to handle them, they are much less likely to result in drowning.

I don’t like frame feeders for a couple of reasons. First, they take up hive space, leaving less storage area for the bees, and less space for expansion in the spring. Second, if you want to top them up, you have to open up the whole hive. Not great for the bees in winter.

Hopefully that answers your question better, but please ask again if we missed what you really needed to know. This is a very big community, and everyone has different questions about the same thing!



It is my understanding that uncapped honey is uncapped for the reason that the water content is too high and if left it will ferment and is not suitable for feeding back to the bees??

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Not necessarily. Towards the end of the season, bees don’t cap honey for several reasons:

  1. They are going to need it soon, so why waste energy capping it?
  2. As the weather cools, wax gets more difficult for them to reshape into cappings, and wax production by house bees decreases anyway
  3. In order to dehydrate unripe honey, they have to fan air within the hive. This results in warm moist air being blown out of the hive, which is not what you want to happen on cooler days. Heat loss is energy wasted

They will not let it ferment, unless they are overwhelmed by small hive beetles.

It is perfectly safe to feed even unripe honey back to bees, as long as you have stored it properly before feeding. It will take a month or two to ferment at room temperature, and it won’t ferment if you store it in the freezer, which is why I suggested that in my first post on this thread.

If it has fermented to the point that it is unsafe for bees, they won’t take it. Anyone who has seen an SHB slime-out will have seen this in person (yes, I have). It doesn’t even get robbed!

Totally agree with Dawn’s feeding suggestions. Also agree that nectar and honey are nutritionally superior to syrup.

I only raise the AFB concern because spores can be in your healthy hive’s honey. I recently talked with one of the scientists at the NSW DPI labs when dropping off club samples for testing. She said the vast majority of honey they test are positive for some level of AFB spores.

It’s a matter of risk assessment. One spore in nectar fed to one larva can be all it takes. I’ve seen too many beekeepers lose their bees to AFB to not highlight the risk.

If you’re a member of an ABA club, you can have your honey anonymously tested for free via your Biosecurity Officer.